Shelf Centered

A blog about books & culture from the librarians who love them

What We're Reading - May 5

what were reading wednesday block 01 01Hello! Here's what Wilmette Public Library staff has been reading lately. This week we feature two lengthier reviews: one of a favorite exercise book (and a plug for using library resources) and one advocating reading and listening to more than one book at a time. You can search for these titles and put them on hold through our online catalog or you can look for an ebook or e-audiobook on the Digital Library of Illinoissusan3

Title:  Fitness for Everyone: 50 Exercises for Every Type of Body
Author:  Louise Green
Reader:  Susan K-T., Youth Services Librarian

I love this exercise book!  Why?  Because it includes all the fitness basics: upper body and core, lower body and cardio, and stretch and balance with many terrific color photos of people of various genders, ages, weights, shapes, even including people of differing abilities! There are great explanations of fitness equipment, and most importantly, how to make fitness accessible for everyone!  The author's motto is to embrace the body you have.

Did you know that our library contains not only many various fitness books, but also current and older DVD's on the topics of fitness such as zumba, yoga, aerobics, tai chi, bootcamp, cardio, Qigong, and more that you can check out!  You can even explore exercise on ebooks.

Title: Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
Title: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (audiobook read by John Lee)
Reader: John A., Business Librarian

pillarsI always seem to somehow have both a print book and an audiobook going at the same time. Right now I'm reading Ken Follett's 'Pillars of the Earth' (1989) on my Nook, and listening to Erik Larson's 'The Splendid and the Vile' (2020). 

I started 'Pillars' because my wife, who is a longtime bookstore manager, recommended it to me when I expressed frustration at the density of Umberto Eco's 'The Name of the Rose' (1983).  I found Eco's famous novel beautifully written, but found myself constantly looking up various Latin phrases and anachronistic terms. While 'Pillars' deals with a similar time period (13th century) and monastic settings, it is also very much a thriller along the lines of Follett's other books. Indeed it seems to have as many major plot twists and major catastrophic events as the early seasons of Game of Thrones (I've not read the books yet).  Now that I am almost done, I am beginning to feel the same kind of void that appeared when I finished GoT. splendid

As for 'The Splendid and the Vile,' I chose it more because I enjoy Erik Larson's approach to historical storytelling than interest in Churchill. The war-time Prime Minister has so many biographies written about (and by) him that I normally assume everything that can be said about the man likely already has been said. Larson's latest book doesn't disappoint; along the lines of his 2011 book 'In the Garden of Beasts,' he takes a larger look at the Churchill family as well as the personalities he brought into the government, depicting their public and private lives.  The book paints a vivid picture of life in Britain during the first years of war prior to America's entry into the conflict. 

What We're Reading - April 21

what were reading wednesday banner 01 01

Hello! Here's what Wilmette Public Library staff has been reading lately. This week we feature a book that is quickly becoming a staff favorite; a cute children's graphic novel about pet allergies; a middle-grade novel about moving to a new country and fitting in without losing your heritage; a quirky, character-driven novel about a hostage situation; and a bonus music recommendation for a popular Icelandic artist. You can search for these titles and put them on hold through our online catalog or you can look for an ebook or e-audiobook on the Digital Library of Illinois

sherirTitle: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Reader: Sheri R., Youth Services Librarian

I'm reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, who is now the first-round choice for my imaginary literary dinner party. I  got started on his books with How to Stop Time, which was a WPL book club book. Then I went on to the humans and other adult and children’s books he’s written. I love the way his character are searching for a way to stay human, and open, and even a bit raw, but to embrace the whole experiences of existence. And he’s funny, too. I end up spamming my friends with quotes when I read him. Try ANYTHING he writes! (This one has been making the rounds among our staff. Read the thoughts of two other staff members here.)


allergicTitle: Allergic
Author: Megan Wagner Lloyd
Reader: Alice J., Youth Services Librarian

I just finished this cute new graphic novel for middle grades. Ten year old Maggie is about to adopt a dog when she out that she's allergic. Determined to get a pet, she tries a few others while adjusting to allergy shots, making friends at a new school and the new baby in the family.


yearflewTitle: The Year I Flew Away
Author: Lawrence Wright
Reader: Jennifer L., Youth Services Librarian

In 1985, Gabrielle is excitedly moving from Haiti to America for achieve her family's hope of her education and success for her future. She starts to live with her uncle's family in Brooklyn, New York. She starts new school and it is not easy being 10-year-old  and learning new language and get along with other kids. One day, a witch offers her to give ability to speak English well, and she accepts it. Soon, she realizes she is losing important things in her life to gain new things. Now, she has to figure out ways to save what she is losing by confronting the evil witch.


anxiousTitle: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Reader: Nancy W., Adult Services Librarian

Backman returns to his forte of quirky and challenged yet charming people.  A disparate group find themselves held hostage while at an apartment viewing by a most unlikely and empathetic bank robber.  Over the course of the afternoon the stories and anxieties of the police officers and hostages come out and connections and realizations are made.   You will find yourself laughing out loud and being surprised in this alternately really funny and really sad novel.  You will miss the characters after you finish.


sigurrosBONUS: Media Recommendation!
Title: Odin's Raven Magic

Author: Sigur Rós
Reader: Jessica T., Cataloging Librarian

Sigur Rós is a post-rock band from Reykjavik, Iceland (!). This 2020 album, Odin’s Raven Magic, is an orchestral work set to a 17th century Icelandic poem. Sure to appeal to both classical and rock fans alike, it makes for fantastic work-from-home music. This unique work is well worth a listen.

What We're Reading - April 7

what were reading wednesday banner 01 01kellerman

Hello! Here's what Wilmette Public Library staff has been reading lately. This week we feature a cold case mystery novel, a book about caring for your house plants, a fascinating novel about a (fictional) global pandemic, an autobiography of a controversial star, and a deep dive into something we all do and yet take for granted: breathing. You can search for these titles and put them on hold through our online catalog or you can look for an ebook or e-audiobook on the Digital Library of Illinois

Title: Serpentine
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Reader: Jennifer B., Creative Experiences Coordinator

Jonathan Kellerman is my favorite crime fiction/ mystery author, especially his series featuring psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware & LAPD homicide lieutenant Milo Sturgis. In this book, the detective duo investigate a cold case-- the death of a mysterious woman found with a bullet in her head in a torched Cadillac that has overturned on infamously treacherous Mulholland Drive.


houseplantsTitle: Houseplants for all: How to Fill Any Home with Happy Plants
Author: Danae Horst
Reader: Eva J., Adult Services Librarian

Our home was filled with houseplants before, and it seems like the number of plants has doubled in the past year! While I've been spending a lot of time at home with my plants (and my cat!), this lovely little book about caring for those houseplants has been enjoyable and easy to read and has helped me understand my plants better. Even if you haven't had luck with houseplants before, I recommend giving this little guide a try!


endofoctoberTitle: End of October
Author: Lawrence Wright
Reader: Jill M., Adult Services Manager

If you're like me and are comforted by diving into what scares you as opposed to turning in the other direction, then this book is for you!  It's about a global pandemic (amazingly he wrote this just before Covid) and is written with such beauty, heart and depth.  It's also a fascinating story whose backbone is situated in reality: author Wright looks at medicine, science and pandemics of the past to construct his tale, making you often wonder if the story is non-fiction.  It's extremely well-written, detailed, graphic and is just completely deftly written by someone who cares about his characters.  I loved the audiobook, which I downloaded from Libby.  I could not stop listening. (Listen-alike: I also recommend the two episodes of This Podcast Will Kill You on the Bubonic Plague.)


aproposTitle: Apropos of Nothing
Author: Woody Allen
Reader: Ted R., Adult Services Librarian

Although Woody Allen is controversial these days, I decided to read this 2020 autobiography to balance with the HBO documentary "Allen v. Farrow" which includes a lot of discussion with Dylan Farrow about her sexual abuse allegations against Allen.  Whether you love or hate Woody, or have taken sides on the abuse issue, much of this book has the Woody humor that you know from his comedies.  Despite the controversy, I found myself laughing at much of the typical Woody humor.  There is also a lot of carping about Mia and others regarding the abuse allegations.  This book is not for everyone, but it's a fascinating look at the movie-making process for his many movies and the people and situations he met along the way.  


breathTitle: Breath: The Science of a Lost Art
Author: James Nestor
Reader: Jenny K., Adult Services Manager

This book explores the evolution of human breath throughout history. Even though we breathe (inhale and exhale) approximately 25,000 times daily, most of us aren't doing it correctly and so compromise our physical and mental well-being. Follow Nestor as he himself undergoes a study of his own breath and read how he fixes it to improve his health. Our immune system, athletic performance, spine, mouth, internal organs... are all influenced by the fascinating mechanical inhale and exhale. Read this book and never breathe the same way again.

What We're Reading - March 10

what were reading wednesday block 01 01Hello! Here's what Wilmette Public Library staff has been reading as we slowly thaw out and get ready (hopefully) for Spring. You can search for these titles and put them on hold through our online catalog or you can look for an ebook or e-audiobook on the Digital Library of Illinois

hamnetTitle: Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague
Author: Maggie O'Farrell
Reader: Joan B., Adult Services Librarian

This is a historical fiction novel about Shakespeare, his youth, and family, covering a little-known story about his most beloved play, Hamlet. This book was aNew York Times Notable Book (2020) and a listed as a Best Book of 2020 from the GuardianFinancial TimesLiterary Hub, and NPR.


childrenredTitle: The Children of Red Peak
Author: Craig DiLouie
Reader: Krista H., Teen & Adult Services Librarian

This psychological suspense novel might also be considered a horror novel by some. It follows four people who, as children, were a part of a cult that started as a peace-loving Christian community and devolved over time into something scary and strange, culminating in a violent, sacrificial night on Red Peak Mountain where the whole cult disappeared--except for them. Years later, as adults coping with various traumas, they go back to Red Peak Mountain to try to remember what happened once and for all. This is psychologically gripping and emotionally fraught but has a lot of interesting, thoughtful points about love, family, faith, and hope.


truthsweTitle: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey
Author: Kamala Harris
Reader: Susan K-T, Youth Services Librarian

This is a youth autobiographical memoir of the first woman, African American, and South Asian American to become attorney general of the State of California, and the second black woman ever elected to the United States Senate, and now she is the first woman, first African American and South Asian American Vice-President!  She describes her immigrant parents that encouraged her to care deeply about social justice and civil rights, particularly her scientist mother, and a life she has lived based on those principles.


biggirlTitle: Big Girl, Small Town
Author: Michelle Gallen
Audiobook Narrator: Nicola Coughlan

Reader: Rachel G., Adult Services Librarian

Majella lives a simple life working in the local chip shop and caring for her alcoholic mother in Aghybogey, the small Northern Irish town she grew up in just after the Troubles. Her routine brings her comfort, that and watching Dallas from the safe comfort of her bed. When Majella's Granny is unexpectedly killed, her life becomes more complicated and she begins to wonder if there is more to experience. A highly captivating and original heroine. The audiobook is narrated by Nicola Coughlan of Bridgerton and Derry Girls fame and she does an amazing job of bringing Majella and her story to life.


womenruledTitle: When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt
Author: Kara Cooney
Reader: Jill M., Adult Services Manager

Actually known during their time as female kings, author, Egyptologist, and archaeologist Kara Cooney describes six women of ancient Egypt who kept their dynasties going through turmoil with little recognition throughout the annals of history.  Often, these female kings ruled while a male heir was too young to take control and we are given insight into their ingenuity, power and strength, and because they were women, how quickly they were erased by men throughout history.  Cooney also draws parallels between the sexism that both ancient Egyptian women and modern women face today.

What We're Reading - February 24

what were reading wednesday block 01 01Hello, it's the last Wednesday in February, the weather is warming up, but time inside reading is still at an all-time high. Here's what Wilmette Public Library staff has been reading while the weather has been grim. You can search for these titles and put them on hold through our online catalog or you can look for an ebook or e-audiobook on the Digital Library of Illinois

hiddenlifeTitle: The Hidden Life of Trees
Author: Peter Wohlleben
Reader: Sheri R., Youth Services Librarian

This New York Times Bestseller restored in me a sense of wonder about the world. I’ve spent years admiring trees, camping under them, trimming them, having them removed due to illness. But I never knew that trees communicate, that they live in families, and that they take care of each other, feeding one another and helping them through rough times. Now, when I take a walk, I find inspiration as close as the parkway. This is an amazing piece of literature!


sanityofsatireTitle: The Sanity of Satire: Surviving Politics One Joke at a Time
Author: Al Gini and Abraham Singer
Reader: Suzanne A., Adult Services Librarian

Al Gini has published The Sanity of Satire. It covers everyone who has used humor from Aristotle to Jerry Seinfeld. It is very funny and contains many anecdotes. Gini is a Loyola professor who hosted an NPR program for years.  The publisher says: "In a poignant, pithy, but not ponderous manner, Al Gini and Abraham Singer delve into the history of satire to rejoice in its triumphs and watch its development from ancient graffiti to the latest late-night TV talk show."


thisishappinessTitle: This is Happiness
Author: Niall Williams
Reader: Jenny K., Adult Services Librarian

I am currently reading This is Happiness by Irish author, Niall Williams. It’s the story about a young man coming of age, a stranger new in town, and the rich, rural culture of the small community of Faha Ireland on the verge of change. Williams’ lyrical writing, full of Irish lore charms the reader and keeps the pages turning. I highly recommend this novel.


missbensonTitle: Miss Benson's Beetle
Author: Rachel Joyce
Reader: Nancy W., Adult Services Librarian

Recounts the search for the fabled New Caledonian golden beetle conducted improbably and wonderfully by the most mis-matched pair imaginable.  This is a wonderful story of a friendship formed as a result of challenging outward circumstances that spur the pair to tackle seemingly impossible challenges.  "A gem of a book."


riseandfallTitle: The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh
Author: Candace Fleming
Reader: Alice J., Youth Services Librarian

I'm in the middle of Candace Fleming's The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh which just won the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award, awarded by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association. “Candace Fleming's riveting biography takes readers deep inside Lindbergh's life and character, exploring the consequences of his actions and beliefs, and alluding to contemporary politics,” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Adrienne Gillespie.


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